ADULT EDUCATION THROUGH SOCIAL SETTLEMENT JOHN BARNABAS Both the...
ADULT EDUCATION THROUGH SOCIAL SETTLEMENT
JOHN BARNABAS
Both the institutions, adult education and the social settlement, are as yet young in India.
Assuming that a study of their organization and working in the West may lead to useful suggestions for their
working in this country, the author proceeds to show how social settlements can help in the process of
adult education, and makes a critical survey of the problems likely to confront the adult educator and the
personal qualities that will be required to meet them successfully.
Mr. John Barnabas (TISS '38) is the Senior Rehabilitation Officer to the Government of India.
India's allegiance to the democratic
With the advance of civilisation,
way of life cannot be doubted. But if it is society has become more complex and has
not supported by a live, informed intelli-
divided itself into those who have what
gence, which can result only from compul-
they need and want to have, and those who
sory mass education, this blind allegiance is have not what they need and want to have.
sure to provide a fertile soil for pseudo-
At this point the social settlement plays an
democratic incompetence. As matters stand important role. It becomes the meeting
today, 9 2 % of our people are illiterate, point of these two divisions of society, the
and even out of the remaining 8 % , not timely bridge that prevents their fatal
many are distinguished by balance of partitioning. As Dr. Holt says in " S o c i a l
perspective, depth of information and the A c t i o n " : "A neighbourhood house is an
other marks of an educated mind. For the attempt to reconstitute the neighbourhood
smooth working of democracy, the two in a society created and ruled by the law of
stumbling blocks in its way, namely, lack of
the markets." We can well imagine that the
educational facilities of adequate magnitude personalities of thousands and thousands
and the prevailing low quality of education,
of our workers have little chance of healthy
should be eliminated. This adult education development in big commercial cities which
alone can do. Its function is not only to aim sprang up almost overnight without any
at adjusting human beings to their environ-
conscious planning and purpose, without
ment, but also at making wholesome any preplanned facilities of play and recrea-
modifications in the environment itself if tion grounds, with no adequate hygienic
it is inherently deliterious in its influence. and sanitary provision. The social settle-
Social settlements are functioning in the ment in such a neighbourhood must
West as the tools of such concepts of adult become a family living in that area—a
education and their history, viewed along family consisting of a group of people
with the account of the development of having had educational and social
adult education, leads to the inference that advantages living in a neglected neighbour-
both these institutions, arising from the hood, striving to understand the problems
same needs, are complementary to each of the wage-earner and the better-placed
other. Both, however, are as yet young in man, and sharing in the normal neighbour-
India. Therefore a study of their organi-
hood life.
zation and working in the West may be
Certain misconceptions about social
useful to us and no apologies need settlements need to be cleared at this stage.
be made for this shift of attention from the The settlement is not a charitable in-
East to the West.
stitution, although, as Mary Simkhovitch

100 JOHN BARNABAS
puts it, '' it may do charitable things and its ment thus may be defined as a " g r o u p
efforts may be supported by charitable of men and women associated under
funds." Again, it is not the instrument of qualified leadership for the common
any party, political, religious, communal or purpose of knowledge, wisdom and fellow-
any other. Being an unifying factor, it ship for the service of the community
attempts to search for the salient points in either by personal effort, by united action,
every group of society. The extent to which or by influencing public opinion and parti-
these misconceptions are prevalent is clearly cipating in public life."* As C. Manshardt
shown in the following quotation from has put it, ' ' I t serves as a neighbourhood
"Settlement Catechism" by Mary Sim-
clearing house and as a centre of neigh-
khovitch : ' ' W h a t do capitalists think of bourhood co-operation."
the settlements ? Often they think they are
Before proceeding to examine how the
hotbeds of radicalism. What do ' r a d i c a l s ' settlement can help to promote adult educa-
think of the settlements ? Often they think tion, let us try to answer the question as
the settlements are the instruments of to why adults need to be educated. All are
capitalism by which working people are agreed on the inadequacy of our present
lulled into inactivity. What do 'religious' system of education. We have been able
people think of the settlements ? That it to acquire knowledge, but not the required
must be irreligious, if it does not hold competence to apply that knowledge to
religious services or is not connected with life in practice. We are educated in part,
the church. What do those who have but the whole man is not educated. There-
studied the settlements most closely think fore adult education attempts to make up
of them ? That they are neither 'conserva-
the deficiency by educating the whole man.
t i v e ' nor 'radical,' 'religious' nor Next comes the social need for adult
'irreligious' but that guided by ex-
education. The individual must be enabled
perience and life itself they propose to to adapt himself to the changing world.
build up a more valuable kind of neighbour-
As the National Education Report of
hood life than that which at present exists, America says : "Rapidly changing social
irrespective of theory or regardless of and economic conditions require the deve-
criticism."
lopment of a system of continuous
This policy of non-partisanship gives education which will enable adults to
adjust themselves to their changing environ-
the social settlement certain distinct advant-
ment." Conditions in the progressive
ages over other kinds of social work. No machine-age aggravate the need for adult
problem is regarded by it as an isolated education. Under the cramped atmosphere
problem, but as one which has to be seen of modern times the adult has no
in relation to other problems. The settle-
opportunity to give expression to his
ment, again, gives unparalleled opportunity thought. So the first service that a program
to understand the indigenous life of city of adult education seeks to fulfil is to
neighbourhoods and thereby secure training provide him with the opportunity for self-
for political activity. Lastly, by being a expression. It attempts to engage him in
member of a group rather than working as some work of positive creation ; for
an isolated individual, one-sided views creativeness is the function of man in his
are checked by the constant criticism of wholeness. And the driving force of this
other members of the groups. The settle-
* Settlements and Their Work, E. S. A. paper No. 2, p. 3.

ADULT EDUCATION THROUGH SOCIAL SETTLEMENT 101
noble attempt will be the love of beauty ;
It is not possible to give a general
the love of seeing something in its perfec-
program of work for settlements as a whole.
tion and as the product of his own efforts. Nor is it wise to give a list of activities that
Another great need which is met by this could be carried on in a given situation.
process of adult education is to help the Each settlement has to act differently
adults to keep their minds open in spite of keeping in mind the particular needs of
advancing age. It enables them to form the neighbourhood and the peculiar con-
their own judgement by basing it on facts. ditions of the situation. Hence we can only
It insists on their discarding worn-out try to lay down very broadly the different
ideas and habits, and substituting for them forms adult education can take in a social
new ideas and up-to-date knowledge. Thus settlement. The broad heads will be :—
they are enabled to realise their responsi-
1. Adult Education through group work.
bility in relation to their neighbours.
2. ,, ,, ,, classes.
There are several ways in which the 3. ,, ,, ,, the platform.
settlement promotes adult education. 4. ,, ,, ,, the desk of
Firstly, considering the fact that the
the 'adult educator.'
settlement brings together the high and the
Through Group Work.—Group work
low without distinction, it is no exaggera-
itself may be carried on in what are known
tion to maintain that " by the alchemy as clubs and associations. Regarding the
of residential propinquity a cross-current individual not merely as an individual but
of learning is established between the as a member of the group and educating
privileged supporters and the unprivileged
consumers."* Secondly, there is an undefin-
him through it is the primary function of
able and immeasurable personal education group work. Group accomplishment would
that takes place between individuals, once depend upon the successful training of the
confidence is established between them. individual in the art of self-government in
No programme of adult education through the clubs. Various methods of procedure
social settlement can entirely forget this a may be used in order to make the club
important trend and should constantly, a centre of training in self-government. It
therefore, bear in mind the ideal of main-
should be run entirely by the members of
taining personal contact with individuals the club through committees or executives
in the neighbourhood. Thirdly, all through elected by them, and its decisions and
the years of its life the social settlement has conduct should be subject to a self-imposed
been attempting to promote civic education set of rules and an unwritten constitution.
or civic education looking to reform. A
In running these clubs, however, one
considered programme of adult education needs to keep in mind the experiences of
has been its agent. While keeping aloof other settlements and try to profit by their
from party politics, it has studiously faults. The experience of social settlements
attempted to educate the citizens in the where an extensive programme of group
nature and forms of government, in the work was attempted shows that " ( 1 ) the
duties and rights of citizens. Further, the neighbourhoods in which they are located
social settlement believes that learning is and the 'neighbours' with whom they
a social process, and so the opportunity for work have a major responsibility in deter-
sharing knowledge and experience is amply mining the policies of the settlement,
provided for by it.
(2) their educational programmes are
* G. Hawkins. Educational Experiment In Social Settlements.

102 JOHN BARNABAS
directed toward the development of indi-
encouraged to pursue the subjects of their
genous leadership, (3) their educational interests. Vocational classes, such as those
programmes are built on immediate in type-writing and shorthand, may be
interests made apparent in or developed by arranged. Then there can be classes dealing
group associations, and (4) they tend in with special interests and hobbies like
their association with other groups to work photography, painting, music, etc. It has
out from the settlement rather than into of course to be borne in mind that adults
the settlement."*
cannot go on learning indefinitely and that
therefore every course should be of a
Through Classes.—Adult education is definite duration and limit.
for two types of people, for those who have
gone through schools and colleges and yet
Through the Platform.—The moment
need education, and for those who have we speak of the platform we pass from that
not had the advantage of education at all. aspect of adult education where personal
In India the latter form by far the bigger touch is prominent to a situation where
majority. Therefore, the classes for them there is not the same intimacy and contact
should try to impart a part at least of the between the instructor and the instructed.
education they would have received had But experience has shown that the platform
by means of lectures, forums, debates,
they attended the schools and also the sort round-table discussions, discussion groups,
of education that schools themselves have panel discussions, etc. can be utilised very
failed to impart. Hilda W. Smith has some advantageously to educate adults. To begin
valuable suggestions to make as fundamental with lectures, much certainly depends upon
to such classes in order to enable them to the lecturer. The lecture method aids in
fulfil these functions : " ( 1 ) The necessity stimulating the thoughts of people and
of absolute freedom of teaching and stirring them to action. At least it ought to,
discussion, (2) the emphasis on the social for a lecture is the dramatization of an
sciences in the progress of instruction, idea or ideas of the lecturer. There is an
(3) a method of teaching that relates instruc-
appeal to both the eye and the ear in it,
tion to the actual experience of the worker-
and this double stimulation goes to make
students, and (4) the social application of the
a strong impression. In India, unfortunately,
new knowledge to problems of the workers'
the educated populace seems to be remark-
own lives."
ably ignorant of the uses of lectures and
tragically indifferent to educative lectures.
The most important thing to remember
In America admission to lectures is by
in conducting discussions in these classes is tickets, and in our country even free
to see that you discuss the things that are lectures find an almost empty hall. It is
of interest to students themselves and in time the people here were made to realize
which you too have an interest. Another the importance of lectures other than those
important keynote to the successful work-
that are merely political or humorous,
ing of these classes is to keep the problems and this can only be done through a
of these workers before your eyes always, process of intelligent adult education. For
problems such as technological unemploy-
this purpose a discussion following a
ment, loss of personal skill and satisfac-
lecture is certainly useful. Such a procedure
tion born of individual creative work and
"clears up obscurities and prevents that
increased leisure time for the workers. As final feeling of infallibility which many
regards subjects, students may be
* Hawkins, G. Educational Experiments in Social Settlements.

ADULT EDUCATION THROUGH SOCIAL SETTLEMENT 103
professional lecturers come to have and man speaks of the remarkable goodness of
sometimes to transmit to their audiences."* Gandhi, and there a lady with three children
comes and wrangles that '' marriage should
In Western countries there is a growing
be abolished." Next day, a youth fresh
tendency to use the " F o r u m " as a useful from the college, pickwickally dressed and
method in adult education. In this form of with unkempt but very luxuriously grown
education a leader of ability studies a hair on his head, comes and declares that it
subject and presents it to the audience and is high time the gods and goddesses of the
then the lecture-hall immediately becomes world were done away with and a bust of
a views-expressing hall. Everyone gets Ingersoll installed in their place. Then
into the spirit of the subject and expresses there is the inevitable puny creature who
his opinion on it, supporting or opposing
the leader. Thus the Forum works as a weeps over the badness of Englishmen
neutral meeting place and testing ground
Through the Desk.—If authors can be
for warring opinions, and finally it serves hailed as one of the most important and
as a stiffener of liberal opinion. In other influential body of educators, then it is
words, the Forum is used (1) for imparting clear that the adult educator who writes
information and (2) to unite groups to sets books and articles on various subjects
of ideas.
interesting to adult students is doing
them a real service. The press can be very
There is yet another form of adult useful in keeping the great educated public
education through the platform. It is of continuously interested in the problem of
recent growth in America and seems to adult education on the one hand, and in-
be appropriate to Indian conditions. Called formed, on the other, of the advance made
the Panel Discussion, it, in the words of in this direction in the neighbourhood in
Morse Cartwright, "places responsibility which the particular adult educator is
for leadership in a round-table discussion working and is interested. He in his turn
upon a selected group of from six to twelve can educate the masses by writing
individuals, with a chairman in charge." articles on subjects which are associated
The latter first expounds the subject. with the lives of all, sanitation, hygiene,
This is followed by a discussion, but house and town planning, and their
without set speeches, by the members of the
influences on the lives and character
panel in the hearing of the general audience ; of citizens, etc., and the more advanced
and finally the question or questions adult educator, say, the social reformer, may
developed by the panel are placed before proceed further and quicken the interest
the entire assemblage for further discussion. of the public in such matters as changes
Debating, when properly conducted, in the family and other social institutions.
is also an aid to adult education, for There is indeed no limit to the service that
"when a goodly number of young men are can be done in this way.
engaged in seeking truth, the result is both
Then there can be local and provincial
wholesome and stimulating." The Debating exhibitions arranged for the education of
Society of the Nagpada Neighbourhood the public. Happily, nowadays, the educa-
House is a proof of this statement. tional value of exhibitions is being well
For here come people of all des-
recognised. Libraries, too, can play their
criptions and express their opinions with part. But to be useful in these days of count-
pronounced animation. Here an old gentle-
less books on innumerable subjects, the
* Ely, M. L. Adult Education in Action.

104 JOHN BARNABAS
library should be directed by a sympathetic tics of human nature. Every issue of leader-
librarian who can guide young and old ship comes back to this : know the human
alike in the proper selection of books organisation, the manner of its behaviour,
after ascertaining their interests, likes and the natural promptings of natural basic
dislikes.
desires, the typical aspirations, the usual
Much of the organizational work in and possible modes of satisfaction, the
adult education is to be carried on from conditions of happiness in a profound
the desk. Be it through article writing or sense. The leader should be an expert in
through a '' Vocational Information human nature—whether his knowledge
Bureau" or any other method, all need is intuitive or acquired by conscious
study, thought and imagination, and with-
study."*
out these being continuously employed,
Having thus studied the situation and
adult education cannot be at its best. Carried the people therein, he must develop a
on in this way and through that elusive and socialized personality. For, after all, the
yet powerful entity called personal concern functions of leaders are to socialize human
and sincerity in all contacts, great and small,
beings, and this cannot be done unless they
with the young and the old of the neigh-
themselves are socialized beings. As Prof.
bourhood, it is bound to benefit not only Giddings points out, the leader must
those within a certain topographical limit, develop (a) a growing consciousness of
but also those in surprisingly remote places. kind—the feeling of identification with the
Leadership developed in a small centre group, (b) an increasing sympathy and
may one day determine the nation's destiny. understanding, and (c) an increasing friendli-
Since the success of any programme of
ness among the members of the group so
education depends to a large extent upon that the group may in reality be a socialized
the leader or " Adult Educator," a critical one. As a result of study and observation
study of the problems that will confront he should find out the people whose
him and of the qualities that will be required
needs he can best serve. He '' must know
of him to meet these problems success-
something about what life is like for the
fully may not be out of place for our isolated housewife, the harrased factory
purpose. The first requisite for the Adult worker, and the bewildered adolescent ;
Educator is to know his community well, whether life is somewhat alike for all
its antecedents, its most sacred and power-
these, whether there are relatively uniform
ful traditions, its changing trends of thought
ways of working with their problems and
and feeling. In order to make a study of the like."# While always open to conviction
the people whom he serves, he must he should never swerve from his principles ;
acquire what S. R. Slavson calls "psycho-
and along-side of his working on marked-
logical insight." He must carry this insight out principles, he must have definite objec-
to such an extent that he becomes a part of tives of work. "For in the last analysis the
the group itself. He must acquire a leader is only as strong as his objectives are
" m e m b e r s h i p character" in the group. strong. A leader is known by the objectives
As O. Tead puts it, "the demand upon the he espouses."## He must learn to have fore-
leader is to know the attributes of the indi-
sight and wisdom in planning. This
vidual so as to be aware of the characteris-
suggests the aphorism of Roosevelt that
* Tead, O. The Art of Leadership
# Kotinsky, R. Adult Education and the Social Science
## Tead, O. The Art of Leadership

ADULT EDUCATION THROUGH SOCIAL SETTLEMENT 105
"nine- tenths of wisdom is being wise in the power of efficiency. At the same time
time". While emphasizing the need of he should not imagine that he is the only
having objectives and pursuing them relent-
man capable of mastering the situation, but
lessly, I would hasten to point out that these
should acquire the ability to delegate details
objectives cannot and should not be to others. The danger of concentrating
pursued regardless of the feelings of the power in one's own hands is that such
group. Pigors is right in pointing out that power which borders on selfishness is
group-leadership is based on the successful bound to be shortlived. There is yet
interplay of individual differences.* And another reason for developing local leader-
the co-ordination of these individual differ-
ship. " Every leader should have a worthy
ences, if it has to give rise to a worthy ambition that his work may remain, that
leadership, is subject to certain conditions : his influence set in motion through his life
(1) '' Individual differences should not be of service may be carried forward long after
so great as to preclude solidarity of purpose.
he has laid his burden down."§ Thus the
(2) The presence of a ' common cause ' leader multiplies his own life by developing
is basic for leadership. (3) It is nonsense to younger men into leaders.
talk of leadership in the abstract, since no
Lastly, foremost among the qualities
one can ' just lead without having a goal.' of the adult educator is the integrity of
(4) Leadership is always in some sphere of spotless character. If he can possess that,
interest and towards some objective goal all else will follow. As Henson points out :
seen by leader and follower,"#
"The kind of influence that gives a man
authority over his fellows is inseparable
Another great fact the adult educator from the possession of what we are accus-
should remember is that he is not merely tomed to call character." History contains
a machine to run routine programmes. the record of many famous men who,
He is also a creator. In bearing this responsi-
though endowed with amazing abilities and
bility he has a two-fold function : he is to distinguished by notable deeds, have yet
be a creative leader himself and he must failed through a lack of the quality called
create leadership among his group members. character. Alcibiades of ancient Greece and
We have dealt sufficiently on the first Bolingbroke, the famous Englishman, are
function. As regards the second, his just two examples. The advice which
responsibility can be said to have three Shakespeare places in the mouth of a father
steps : he has '' to (1) help the individual counselling his son might well be addressed
to develop his potential leadership capa-
to the adult educator also :—
cities to the maximum through training and
application; (2) help him express his
"This above all : to thine own self
leadership power along the right channels
be true,
so as to be a constructive rather than a
And it must follow, as the night
destructive leader, and (3) help him
the day,
expand the scope of his leadership so as to
Thou canst not then be false to
achieve the maximum influence."
any man."
## If he is
to be a creative leader he must maintain his
To sum up, then, the adult educator
position not by mere domination but by needs to possess a sense of purpose and
* Pigors, Paul Leadership or Domination
# Laportes, William R. Recreational Leadership of Boys
## Laportes. William R. Recreational Leadership of Boys
§ Mott, J. R. Leadership of Constructive Forces of the World

106 JOHN BARNABAS
direction, enthusiasm, friendliness and affec-
human energy, within a given sphere, in the
tion, decisiveness, intelligence, integrity and
pursuit of a common cause by the successful
faith. Any programme of adult education interplay of relevant individual differences.
which is not carried out with a leader He must also endeavour to see that his will,
possessing these qualities to a reasonable feeling and insight direct and control others
degree is bound to be a failure. A wise in the pursuit of a cause which he
adult educator has to see that he controls represents.